Nihilism remedy for Anxiety? Is nihilism a viable remedy to anxiety and even conducive to success.

in philosophy •  2 years ago 


            After living a whopping twenty-something years, I think I might have found a counter-intuitive model for overcoming general anxiety and even getting on the right track to success. This theory already has some traction if you really look for it, but I have yet to find a methodology and explanation that fits for me, so while my ideas might not work for everyone, I'll try to explain myself as best as I can. The stuff I'll try to cover in this article include:

  • Nihilism's useful definition: SSG.
  • Actually applying nihilism to real life.
  • Some unnecessary theorizing.


Why not start with the definition of nihilism, according to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

"Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence."

Now this definition seems pretty dark doesn't it. Someone who already has anxiety and is actively looking for positivity or treatment likely does not want to be associated with crippling pessimism.

The problem I have with this definition is the irony, I mean, look at it, by being pessimistic and overly skeptical, you are likely giving the very thing you're against, or everything, even more meaning than someone who isn't a nihilist. It's like complaining to a friend of yours who just threw something in the trash, that it's unnecessary because everything will go to trash one day. By the time you finish, he'll have thrown the trash, likely forgotten about it, and stopped caring - you know, the thing you're supposed to be doing. Another interesting example is that, the act of identifying as a nihilist is in and of itself, not nihilistic. The simple act of identifying and believing in the ideology shows that you do in fact, care.


SSG or "Selective Shits Given"

            This is why I would like to explain my own little definition of nihilism, which basically amounts to selective shits given or SSG. While this isn't anything new often called selective caring or selective apathy, SSG seems like a better title. Selectively giving a shit basically takes the best parts of both being and not being a nihilist. The main reason I want to separate SSG with the other two titles is that they often go hard in each direction. My idea takes nihilism, and applies it to the things you should actually care about in a way that reduces personal stress and increases productivity. Great, now buy my self help DVDs to find out the secret.

            Just joking, I'll tell ya, eventually. Anyway, I think most people already use something very similar to SSG. I'm going to tell a personal little story. I consider myself to have some insecurities and I usually care about what others think of me. I see this as a weakness, and it has made me miss opportunities before. What makes it even worse, is that it's not even consistent. I was sitting on the bus going to class where I had a pretty serious exam. As you may have guessed, I was anxious, and while thinking about class and how I was going to perform, I put my legs up on another bus seat, stared into space, and scratched my head/fiddled with stuff. When I became aware of what I was doing, I worried people thought I was weird, and started behaving like a good busgoer again. This story is SSG in its worst form, giving a shit about the exact things you shouldn't, selectively. In the end I realized that I had the capacity to stop worrying because I literally do it all the time, the problem being that it was only to worry about other stuff. The positive SSG I'm talking about is taking the same principles that cause us to flip through worries and instead finding the core of the anxiety, and dealing with it by allocating all the shits there toward non-inhibitive thoughts and goals. With SSG, you could also give percentages of a shit, making it very flexible.

            Now I understand that last statement there sounded like a joke, giving a quarter of a shit about your job looks like a funny from the newspaper. But what if I told you that it may actually be extremely helpful in the application of the entire ideology/system/whatever to your daily life. You see, SSG is not just some abstract idea, it should also include a default methodology that is follow-able, or more importantly, default-able to. It is important to be able to default to something in the case of overwhelming anxiety or a relapse.

Actually applying SSG and Nihilism

This is the hard part, as a nihilist with stage fright isn't a nihilist. There are a lot of ways to push yourself toward the perfect balance of allocated shits to give, from punching yourself to constantly catching your thoughts and drowning them out with mental curse words.
The three best methods I've found are:

  • Nihilistic Disestablishment.
  • Making and thinking about SSG percent allocations.
  • Focusing on Breathing.

Lets take the stage fright example and work through it with SSG. So the first part would be the physical act of signing up or volunteering to go up on the stage. If you find yourself actively not wanting to, you probably want to. It's at this point where you should breath in, hold it a bit, then breath out. While continuing this, start to allocate importance across the entire event and find out why you really want to get up on stage. If it is for singing, you're probably afraid of how people will perceive you or your voice. In that case it's simple, tell yourself there is 95% shits in getting recognized by a talent agent and the other 5% in stroking your own ego. If visualizing your shits given percentages makes you giggle, it's working. After this, you can try nihilistic disestablishment or ND. ND is basically telling yourself that it does not matter, even in the worst case scenario. Your brain might try to throw you some heavy worst cases but in the end, it'll probably be either you choking, or missing a note, it doesn't matter. It's like giving yourself confidence by breaking down the concept that you need confidence. Just allocate all your shits to the positive aspect of the performance that might bring you real success.


This seems rather simple though, can breathing and telling yourself some stuff in your head really help you in overcoming anxiety, which millions of people have?

            At first, probably not. When I first started thinking about this theory and trying to apply it, I actually choked pretty hard on several occasions. I went to an interview completely unprepared because I told myself it didn't matter and that I'd probably just charisma my way through with my newfound SSG swag. Nope, I choked, I could barely answer questions and stuttered, oh it was terrible. But I did it, and I learned something, and I never stopped SSGing all the way through.

Maybe start small, with the simplest forms of anxiety. The idea is kinda just to overload your head with other stuff that naturally redirects negative thoughts to be broken down. By making yourself think about breathing and shit percentage graphs and existentialism, your not thinking about the anxiety during its worse moments. If you find yourself back to anxiety, the three steps should be auto linked and it should be easy to start breaking it down again.

            As you spend more time going through ordeals that make you anxious using the SSG system, their general effect on you will also dwindle. For example, 92% of your time right now in drama class is spent in anxiety. While actively trying to use SSG, it'll go to 80%, then 79%, then 34%, maybe an occasional spike to 87% again, until you hit the sub 10%'s and you won't even need SSG for drama class anymore. Thinking about it as a goal in and of itself alongside actual goals(impress talent agent) and attaching real numbers such as those above or SG percentages really helps in breaking down not only anxiety but fear of failure and other insecurities.

Interesting stuff maybe

One of the reasons I believe this fairly simplistic system can work, is because I believe persistent personality traits exist as neuron clusters or some sort of data clusters in the brain that get called when similar experiences happen as when the data cluster was originally created in infant-hood or early childhood. Maybe when one was a baby, their parents played peakaboo a few too many times and created a dependency complex or aversion to independence. Just like with the car example from my other post, when you are young and get passed by a fast car, your brain might create a cluster that activates certain fight or flight hormones when a similar experience happens. The thing is, babies might not know what a car is, or they may go on to connect many structures and even concepts to cars, which will all activate that cluster when encountered or thought about. Since these responses were originally written in, they can be written out, it just takes lots of time and a constant onslaught on your own brain.

We getting there


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I drew your picture in an hour.
Nice post!

- Follow me @cryptocreme for more of my sketches!

rick by lucas.JPG

I can relate to this. Values are what should motivate action, desire and emotion. Sometimes, I don't understand what I feel. I am not sure if it is about having reasons for doing, wanting and feeling.

I had crippling anxiety for 2 years that develpoed seemingly from nowhere. Pills will not make it better they just mask it and im sorry but this techique might work for you but anyone reading my comment should know there is a legit way to cure it. Imagine yourself doing the normal things you do throughout the day without having any anxiety, do it every morning multiple times at least 10 times going through the entire day. Do it also at night. Your Subconscious mind will reprogram to believing that you have been reacting in a normal way and continue to. This will fix it in a matter of days to where you can function and in weeks you will be better. IF you do it for months when you stop you probably wont ever have to do it again. That being said im happy you found a way that you found relief.

Meditation(just focusing on breathing, trying not to think of anything) in the nature, walking and exercise in general were a big help to me. I did take the pills, and they did work a bit, maybe just placebo effect lol.. Cutting sugar and caffeine was a huge thing in this process. Sleep rotine also..althou I never followed any of this strictly It did work.

I'm the exact same I don't taken any caffeine or artificial sugars and that's helped a lot. I don't enjoy the caffeine rush The increased heart rate from the caffeine feels too much like the beginning of it anxiety attack.

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  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Thought provoking stuff, I actually did something similar to SSG that I call thought replacement, and it did help improve my grades in school and curb my anxiety.

I used to constantly look at my school work and upcomimg assignments a lot and it ended up giving me so much anxiety that I spent too long on assignments and in some cases never strating them. I changed my approach to only look at my assignments when I had dedicated the time to do them the same day.

I realized that my mood improved when I did this, and now my grades are doing great. You shouldn't worry about something until that moment where you need to but make sure to plan ahead.

I try more and more to only focus on a situation when I can directly can do something about it.


@loshcat. If I understand this post correctly, what you are saying is that the very act of acknowledging nihilism suggest that it cannot be adhered to. Therefore, a true nihilist doesn't know he is a nihilist. I may have misread you. That said. SSG, means that you give a fuck. So it is a damned if you do. Damned if you don't scenario.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

The way I see it, being a true nihilist isn't really possible, if you take "not caring" all the way, you would basically lie down, not move, and eventually perish from starvation. The reason I said "useful definition" in the beginning of my post, was because nihilism by itself is, I guess, useless, at least for help in doing stuff which requires caring. With SSG, I'm trying to take concepts from nihilism that are conducive for my end goal and applying them as needed. There is of course, a very personal aspect to this too. Anything that makes me happy stays away from nihilism, anything that I feel holds me back gets nihilism latched on to it. It's hard to explain really, basically for this to work, you would have to inherently have more personal value in simply being happy, instead of caring or asking about the whys and hows. That way, the nihilistic ideology won't consume you.
Otherwise, thanks very much @nicholas83 for reading and I really appreciate your comment, made me think.

I like your method " Focusing on Breathing. "

There are a lot of valuable things at inner world. Everything We do carelessly may cause mitigating of this valuable things.When we focus on the breathing and that will control to all of our behaviors. Then, the focusing on breathing is being closed to the value things of inner world.

May I get your advice for
my psychology question ?

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Thanks! and yeah, the focus on breathing is to create something you have control over while taking your mind away from the cause of the anxiety, then use it as a foundation to begin breaking down the meaning behing those causes, I hope.
I'll also try to answer your question on your post if I can.

This method ,focusing on the breathing is also found in Buddhism.
That was said the ending of all fears and concerns.

Cool comics. This is new to me, first time to read somethings about nihilism.

nihilism makes certain people rather pessimistic, there are better methods for dealing with anxiety for those kind of people, for example, plowing through the anxiety by simply acknowledging the existence of anxiety and locating the source of anxiety

Yeah, it's not for everybody but I'm not sure if nihilism was even the right word. One of the main things that made me like this idea was that many people who worry, myself included, already pick between those worries on different scales. We already have the ability to replace worries but we only replace them with other ones. The main idea I was trying to get across but maybe failed, is that we can strive to replace worries with the same system our brain already uses but we hijack it with nihilistic concepts to complete an end goal while also creating end goals in the process. The end result if everything works to theory, is actually really far from nihilism itself.

when you put it like that it does make a lot more sense to me, normally coming up with rational solutions for your problems to build a bridge to your end goal is the best way forward, and it reminds me a bit of thus spoke Zarathustra actually, but personally i always saw nihilism as a state of being stuck in the mud, basically running out of solutions to your problem, a bit defeatist, but I probably misunderstood nihilism maybe

That's a really good way to put it, this is mostly just rationalizing an imaginary bridge to take you further from anxiety. Plans, goals, something to latch on to, sometimes it's all someone needs. Now I haven't read Zarathustra but to me, nihilism has always been realizing that there wasn't a real problem in the first place, which ironically enough, sometimes leads to the most interesting solutions.

I came here for Rick, read and enjoyed the post :)

interesting thougts. thank u :)

hey @originalworks, who's the fairest of them all